The Second Post

Ethics are important in any and every setting.  Ethics related to Computer Science and Engineering is extremely important to discuss for a number of reasons.  The first, ethics are typically not discussed.  Another reason ethics need to be discussed is because technology is rapidly evolving, meaning that laws are created after the technology is developed.  One of the final reasons that ethics are important to discuss is because topics are relevant.

Reading over the ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, most of these moral imperatives appear to be easily understood.  I have been going to catholic school all of my life (since pre-kindergarten), which is why these morals appear to be obvious to me. In class we discussed principle 1.4 Be fair and take action not to discriminate.  To me, this is clear.  I was once in a situation where I was not the person ridiculing someone, but was part of the group.  I was then punished for not taking action to defend the person being ridiculed.  There are other instances where I have either been part of or witnessed some of the other morals.  However, just because these morals are easily accepted and understood does not mean that they should not be discussed.  It is the important to understand all the different perspectives that people take while evaluating decisions relating to Computer Science because actions performed might have extreme impacts in the future.  This could relate to a number of the morals, but one could be using someone’s intellectual property without permission and then eventually being sued for that.

Ethics related to Computer Science also needs to be discussed because technology evolves faster than the law.  A prevalent topic is the usage of drones.  Before a couple of years ago, drones were around, but not as widespread as they are today.  Citing a specific example, in 2011 the FAA penalized Raphael Pirker $10,000 for using a drone.  Long story short, Pirker challenged the charge and a federal judge overturned the penalty (http://blogs.marketwatch.com/capitolreport/2014/06/25/are-drones-illegal-in-your-state-this-map-can-tell-you/).  After this incident, the FAA released an infographic of Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to flying drones.  The reason this is relevant is because Pirker wasn’t doing anything wrong according to the law, but he could have been performing a morally wrong act, such as recording video of something he shouldn’t be.  There are many other cases, but this is a clear one.

Finally, ethics relating to Computer Science need to be discussed because the topics are prevalent.  In the article “12 ethical dilemmas gnawing at developers today,” Peter Wayner points out some of the biggest issues.  One that is interesting to me is No. 5: To bug-fix or not to bug-fix.  Wayner explains that developers don’t necessarily delivering a non-working piece of code, but a piece of code that has potential bugs in it because it was not thoroughly tested.  No matter what it is, there will almost always be a bug in a piece of code that is complex.  Someone can vigorously test code, but more than likely not all cases can be accounted for.  I would compare this to Microsoft or Apple releasing a new operating system and almost immediately after they release it they have to release an update to fix the problems that they could not encounter themselves.  This is just one prevalent ethical issue, but it needs to be discussed because people will encounter this issue.

 

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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